Air pollution refers to the release of pollutants into the air that are detrimental to human health and the planet as a whole.
Gibraltar has historically produced all of its electricity from diesel powered generators. Gibraltar’s electricity network operates in an island mode and the geographical isolation from the extensive infrastructure present in the rest of Europe places particularly difficult challenges on the GEA to provide sustainable and reliable supplies of electricity at an affordable cost. In particular they are required to operate an electricity supply system which is subject to extreme variations of demand, on both daily and seasonal bases. This requires a high degree of flexibility which will be even more necessary as fluctuating input from renewable power sources increases.
The Gibraltar Electricity Authority is the sole electricity operator in Gibraltar. Old power stations in the south district and Waterport will soon be decommissioned as a new gas powered power station is being built at North Mole. Natural gas is a significantly cleaner fuel than diesel and this change, along with the implementation of state of the art technology, will result in a notable reduction in pollutants from this source.
At the same time, H.M. Government of Gibraltar continues to pursue renewable energy solutions for Gibraltar which will hopefully come to displace much of the fossil fuel generation.
Gibraltar has yet to develop any large scale renewable energy plants, however, there are a number of small projects which have been installed over the last few years which are proving successful. Solar thermal panels are installed at the Tercentenary Hall and Tangier Views, providing hot water to users. The GASA swimming pool has a combined system of solar thermal, solar PV and heat recovery which has resulted in the installation being a net importer to the electricity network. St. Bernard’s Hospital is the latest development, with solar PV panels having been installed to power a heat pump which in turn provides hot water to the building.
HM Government of Gibraltar also continues to invite developers of innovative technologies to use Gibraltar as a test bed for these. The EcoWave project currently installed at the ammunition jetty on the east side is one such technology.
Emissions from ships that dock in Gibraltar usually arise from the use of their own on-board generators.
Shore-side energy (SSE), also known as "cold-ironing", is the provision of shore-side electrical power to a ship at berth while its main and auxiliary engines are shut down. It has the potential to eliminate ship engine emissions in port waters, reducing each pollutant by about 90% and greenhouse gas emissions by 50%, as well as reducing noise, vibration and engine wear-and-tear. Not burning extra fuel while stationary also comes with cost savings, although these vary by engine, vessel and fuel type.
Gibraltar is working to introduce SSE to ships both at the Port and at GibDock.
Road traffic is acknowledged to be one of Gibraltar’s biggest problems, both in terms of environmental impact and general quality of life. There are currently 34,000 actively registered vehicles in Gibraltar – more than one vehicle per person, when levels of between 0.3 and 0.6 would be expected.
This situation is recognised to be unsustainable and in 2017, H.M. Government of Gibraltar published its Sustainable Traffic Transport & Parking Plan
This plan sets out the vision for transport in Gibraltar:
Gibraltar’s future transport system will be one in which users are able to move around in a safe, reliable and sustainable manner; increasing its attractiveness as a place to live, work, visit and do business. There will be a real choice to meet travel needs with good access to employment, health, education, retail and leisure. This will encourage more sustainable travel behaviour. Sustainable modes of travel will be developed in order to minimise adverse impacts on the environment and promote healthier lifestyles.
The STTPP’s overarching goal is to address transport related climate change and local air quality issues in Gibraltar by encouraging people to consider walking, cycling and public transport as viable alternatives to using the car. This will be achieved by improving overall mobility in and around Gibraltar with sustainable links between residential areas and the city centre, enabling people to travel safely, securely and in comfort.
Some key measures have already been introduced such as the Bus Tracker system which provides users with real time information on bus timings and the launch of the Reddibike bicycle hire scheme. Other initiatives relating to parking, public transport, walking and cycling will be rolled out over the coming months and years.
HMGOG will invest in low carbon vehicles and develop a low carbon transport infrastructure through the continued placing of electric charging points in new public car parks as well as the introduction of charging points at existing key locations such as Grand Parade, Fish Market Road and Line Wall Road.
HMGOG will incentivise the use of low carbon vehicles by providing preferential parking for low carbon vehicles in the city centre.
HMGOG will tackle barriers to the use of public transport and encourage a step change quality of bus travel via:
HMGOG will ensure that the pedestrian environment is friendly, safe and accessible to use, with all pedestrians able to move about with ease and confidence.
HMGOG is keen to promote and encourage more cycling activity as part of its integrated travel planning and has begun to develop a cycle route network (Wellington Front). It will be developing a comprehensive cycle strategy to ensure cycling is a viable form of transport.
As we have discussed, air pollution arises from three main sources. Although shipping is something that we largely cannot affect, the amount of energy we use in our homes and our work places can be reduced as can the amount of fuel that we use to get around. Visit our energy efficiency pages to find out more.